## The education rat race

How can we expose more people to critical thinking?
Anaxagoras
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Location: Yokohama/Tokyo, Japan

### The education rat race

Longish article by George Packer in The Atlantic:

When the Culture War Comes for the Kids
Caught between a brutal meritocracy and a radical new progressivism, a parent tries to do right by his children while navigating New York City’s schools.
The mood of meritocracy is anxiety—the low-grade panic when you show up a few minutes late and all the seats are taken. New York City, with its dense population, stratified social ladder, and general pushiness, holds a fun-house mirror up to meritocracy. Only New York would force me to wake up early one Saturday morning in February, put on my parka and wool hat, and walk half a mile in the predawn darkness to register our son, then just 17 months old, for nursery school. I arrived to find myself, at best, the 30th person in a line that led from the locked front door of the school up the sidewalk. Registration was still two hours off, and places would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. At the front of the line, parents were lying in sleeping bags. They had spent the night outside.

I stood waiting in the cold with a strange mix of feelings. I hated the hypercompetitive parents who made everyone’s life more tense. I feared that I’d cheated our son of a slot by not rising until the selfish hour of 5:30. And I worried that we were all bound together in a mad, heroic project that we could neither escape nor understand, driven by supreme devotion to our own child’s future. All for a nursery school called Huggs.

New York’s distortions let you see the workings of meritocracy in vivid extremes. But the system itself—structured on the belief that, unlike in a collectivized society, individual achievement should be the basis for rewards, and that, unlike in an inherited aristocracy, those rewards must be earned again by each new generation—is all-American. True meritocracy came closest to realization with the rise of standardized tests in the 1950s, the civil-rights movement, and the opening of Ivy League universities to the best and brightest, including women and minorities. A great broadening of opportunity followed. But in recent decades, the system has hardened into a new class structure in which professionals pass on their money, connections, ambitions, and work ethic to their children, while less educated families fall further behind, with little chance of seeing their children move up.

When parents on the fortunate ledge of this chasm gaze down, vertigo stuns them. Far below they see a dim world of processed food, obesity, divorce, addiction, online-education scams, stagnant wages, outsourcing, rising morbidity rates—and they pledge to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling. They’ll stay married, cook organic family meals, read aloud at bedtime every night, take out a crushing mortgage on a house in a highly rated school district, pay for music teachers and test-prep tutors, and donate repeatedly to overendowed alumni funds. The battle to get their children a place near the front of the line begins before conception and continues well into their kids’ adult lives. At the root of all this is inequality—and inequality produces a host of morbid symptoms, including a frantic scramble for status among members of a professional class whose most prized acquisition is not a Mercedes plug-in hybrid SUV or a family safari to Maasai Mara but an acceptance letter from a university with a top‑10 U.S. News & World Report ranking.
The best solution is probably don't have kids. Unless you want to put up with it.

Although this is about upper middle class parents in New York City, Japan also feels a lot like this to me. Most parents here are also competative and willing to spend extra on their child's education, such as by sending them to Juku after school, or to a private school.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

Abdul Alhazred
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### Re: The education rat race

The best solution is leave NYC, even if it means walking away from a decent paying job.

Because your children are more important.

That city is doomed anyway. Get out quickly.
The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos.
People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos.

Anaxagoras
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### Re: The education rat race

Another excerpt:
The bathroom crisis hit our school the same year our son took the standardized tests. A girl in second grade had switched to using male pronouns, adopted the initial Q as a first name, and begun dressing in boys’ clothes. Q also used the boys’ bathroom, which led to problems with other boys. Q’s mother spoke to the principal, who, with her staff, looked for an answer. They could have met the very real needs of students like Q by creating a single-stall bathroom—the one in the second-floor clinic would have served the purpose. Instead, the school decided to get rid of boys’ and girls’ bathrooms altogether. If, as the city’s Department of Education now instructed, schools had to allow students to use the bathroom of their self-identified gender, then getting rid of the labels would clear away all the confusion around the bathroom question. A practical problem was solved in conformity with a new idea about identity.

Within two years, almost every bathroom in the school, from kindergarten through fifth grade, had become gender-neutral. Where signs had once said boys and girls, they now said students. Kids would be conditioned to the new norm at such a young age that they would become the first cohort in history for whom gender had nothing to do with whether they sat or stood to pee. All that biology entailed—curiosity, fear, shame, aggression, pubescence, the thing between the legs—was erased or wished away.

The school didn’t inform parents of this sudden end to an age-old custom, as if there were nothing to discuss. Parents only heard about it when children started arriving home desperate to get to the bathroom after holding it in all day. Girls told their parents mortifying stories of having a boy kick open their stall door. Boys described being afraid to use the urinals. Our son reported that his classmates, without any collective decision, had simply gone back to the old system, regardless of the new signage: Boys were using the former boys’ rooms, girls the former girls’ rooms. This return to the familiar was what politicians call a “commonsense solution.” It was also kind of heartbreaking. As children, they didn’t think to challenge the new adult rules, the new adult ideas of justice. Instead, they found a way around this difficulty that the grown-ups had introduced into their lives. It was a quiet plea to be left alone.

When parents found out about the elimination of boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, they showed up en masse at a PTA meeting. The parents in one camp declared that the school had betrayed their trust, and a woman threatened to pull her daughter out of the school. The parents in the other camp argued that gender labels—and not just on the bathroom doors—led to bullying and that the real problem was the patriarchy. One called for the elimination of urinals. It was a minor drama of a major cultural upheaval. The principal, who seemed to care more about the testing opt-out movement than the bathroom issue, explained her financial constraints and urged the formation of a parent-teacher committee to resolve the matter. After six months of stalemate, the Department of Education intervened: One bathroom would be gender-neutral.

In politics, identity is an appeal to authority—the moral authority of the oppressed: I am what I am, which explains my view and makes it the truth. The politics of identity starts out with the universal principles of equality, dignity, and freedom, but in practice it becomes an end in itself—often a dead end, a trap from which there’s no easy escape and maybe no desire for escape. Instead of equality, it sets up a new hierarchy that inverts the old, discredited one—a new moral caste system that ranks people by the oppression of their group identity. It makes race, which is a dubious and sinister social construct, an essence that defines individuals regardless of agency or circumstance—as when Representative Ayanna Pressley said, “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice; we don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.”

At times the new progressivism, for all its up-to-the-minuteness, carries a whiff of the 17th century, with heresy hunts and denunciations of sin and displays of self-mortification. The atmosphere of mental constriction in progressive milieus, the self-censorship and fear of public shaming, the intolerance of dissent—these are qualities of an illiberal politics.
Two years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a new initiative to integrate New York City’s schools. Our district, where there are enough white families for integration to be meaningful, was chosen as a test case. Last year a committee of teachers, parents, and activists in the district announced a proposal: Remove the meritocratic hurdle that stands in the way of equality. The proposal would get rid of competitive admissions for middle school—grades, tests, attendance, behavior—which largely accounted for the racial makeup at our son’s new school. In the new system, students would still rank their choices, but the algorithm would be adjusted to produce middle schools that reflect the demography of our district, giving disadvantaged students a priority for 52 percent of the seats. In this way, the district’s middle schools would be racially and economically integrated. De Blasio’s initiative was given the slogan “Equity and Excellence for All.” It tried to satisfy democracy and meritocracy in a single phrase.

I went back and forth and back again, and finally decided to support the new plan. My view was gratuitous, since the change came a year too late to affect our son. I would have been sorely tested if chance had put him in the first experimental class. Under the new system, a girl at his former bus stop got matched with her 12th choice, and her parents decided to send her to a charter school. No doubt many other families will leave the public-school system. But I had seen our son flourish by going to an elementary school that looked like the city. I had also seen meritocracy separate out and demoralize children based on their work in fourth grade. “If you fail middle school,” our daughter said, “you fail life.” It was too soon for children’s fates to be decided by an institution that was supposed to serve the public good.

I wanted the plan to succeed, but I had serious doubts. It came festooned with all the authoritarian excess of the new progressivism. It called for the creation of a new diversity bureaucracy, and its relentless jargon squashed my hope that the authors knew how to achieve an excellent education for all. Instead of teaching civics that faced the complex truths of American democracy, “the curriculum will highlight the vast historical contributions of non-white groups & seek to dispel the many non-truths/lies related to American & World History.”

“Excellence” was barely an afterthought in the plan. Of its 64 action items, only one even mentioned what was likely to be the hardest problem: “Provide support for [district] educators in adopting best practices for academically, racially & socioeconomically mixed classrooms.” How to make sure that children of greatly different abilities would succeed, in schools that had long been academically tracked? How to do it without giving up on rigor altogether—without losing the fastest learners?

We had faced this problem with our daughter, who was reading far ahead of her grade in kindergarten and begged her teacher for math problems to solve. When the school declined to accommodate her, and our applications to other public schools were unsuccessful, we transferred her to a new, STEM-focused private school rather than risk years of boredom. We regretted leaving the public-school system, and we were still wary of the competitive excesses of meritocracy, but we weren’t willing to abandon it altogether.

The Department of Education didn’t seem to be thinking about meritocracy at all. Its entire focus was on achieving diversity, and on rooting out the racism that stood in the way of that.

Late in the summer of 2018, a public meeting was called in our district to discuss the integration plan. It was the height of vacation season, but several hundred parents, including me, showed up. Many had just heard about the new plan, which buried the results of an internal poll showing that a majority of parents wanted to keep the old system. We were presented with a slideshow that included a photo of white adults snarling at black schoolchildren in the South in the 1960s—as if only vicious racism could motivate parents to oppose eliminating an admissions system that met superior work with a more challenging placement. Even if the placement was the fruit of a large historical injustice, parents are compromised; a policy that tells them to set aside their children’s needs until that injustice has been remedied is asking for failure. Just in case the implication of racism wasn’t enough to intimidate dissenters, when the presentation ended, and dozens of hands shot up, one of the speakers, a progressive city-council member, announced that he would take no questions. He waved off the uproar that ensued. It was just like the opt-out “education session” my wife had attended: The deal was done. There was only one truth.

De Blasio’s schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, has answered critics of the diversity initiative by calling them out for racism and refusing to let them “silence” him. As part of the initiative, Carranza has mandated anti-bias training for every employee of the school system, at a cost of $23 million. One training slide was titled “White Supremacy Culture.” It included “Perfectionism,” “Individualism,” “Objectivity,” and “Worship of the Written Word” among the white-supremacist values that need to be disrupted. In the name of exposing racial bias, the training created its own kind. The legacy of racism, together with a false meritocracy in America today that keeps children trapped where they are, is the root cause of the inequalities in the city’s schools. But calling out racism and getting rid of objective standards won’t create real equality or close the achievement gap, and might have the perverse effect of making it worse by driving out families of all races who cling to an idea of education based on real merit. If integration is a necessary condition for equality, it isn’t sufficient. Equality is too important to be left to an ideology that rejects universal values. A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. William Shakespeare ed Posts: 38142 Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2004 11:52 pm Title: G_D ### Re: The education rat race Abdul and I went to "Special High Schools" whose admittance is by test. Today the majority (?) of students are Asian and white. DiBlasio came up with the idea of admitting the top x% of students in each district thus putting more black faces in the classrooms. This, naturally, would destroy those schools in the name of something that I really don't get. Since they are funded partially by the state, Albany has the final say and they said "no". Undeterred DiBlasio is going to eliminate special programs that catered to the gifted because noting raises blacks up like ignoring the "why" and destroying programs that benefit others. About that stereo ed Posts: 38142 Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2004 11:52 pm Title: G_D ### Re: The education rat race Anaxagoras wrote: Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:50 am Another excerpt: Snip The legacy of racism, together with a false meritocracy in America today that keeps children trapped where they are, is the root cause of the inequalities in the city’s schools. But calling out racism and getting rid of objective standards won’t create real equality or close the achievement gap, and might have the perverse effect of making it worse by driving out families of all races who cling to an idea of education based on real merit. If integration is a necessary condition for equality, it isn’t sufficient. Equality is too important to be left to an ideology that rejects universal values. The fact that racist progressives refuse to ask "why?" is the start of the problem. And they don't because they don't like the answers. Asian students tend to have intact families where education and study are valued. The kids are encouraged/forced to study. They excel as a group. So ... 08 JAN 2014 LBJ’S “WAR ON POVERTY” HURT BLACK AMERICANS Black Activists Criticize Handout Mentality that Destroyed Traditional Families Washington, D.C. – Fifty years ago today, before a joint session of Congress, President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Today, black activists with the Project 21 leadership network are critical of how that war has been waged. They note the expansion of government and a strategy focused on handouts that discourage self-improvement caused more harm than help to the poor. “Five decades after President Johnson initiated the ‘war’ on poverty, America remains at around the same percentage of people still living in poverty as it did back then. In 1964, the poverty rate was approximately 19 percent. Today, it’s around 15 percent,” said Project 21 spokesman Derryck Green. “Statistics such as these demonstrate the War on Poverty was a continually-mismanaged disaster. That isn’t to say there haven’t been people helped by it. All things considered, however, it’s been a tragedy.” Green added: “The disastrous effects of the government’s management of anti-poverty initiatives are recognizable across racial lines, but the destruction is particularly evident in the black community. It effectively subsidized the dissolution of the black family by rendering the black man’s role as a husband and a father irrelevant, invisible and — more specifically — disposable. The result has been several generations of blacks born into broken homes and broken communities experiencing social, moral and economic chaos. It fosters an inescapable dependency that primarily, and oftentimes solely, relies on government to sustain livelihoods.” Federal programs directly resulting from the War on Poverty include Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps and enhanced Social Security benefits. At the time, President Johnson boasted, “[t]he richest nation on Earth can afford to win it.” In 1988, President Ronald Reagan noted in his 1988 State of the Union Address that “we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” President George H.W. Bush, in his own 1992 State of the Union Address, pointed out: “Welfare was never meant to be a lifestyle; it was never meant to be a habit; it was never supposed to be passed on from generation to generation like a legacy.” Bush’s comment echoed a statement by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, long before the War on Poverty even began, warned government assistance could be like a “narcotic.” https://nationalcenter.org/project21/20 ... americans/ Human beings are critters. Critters expend the least energy necessary to achieve an end. Critters perform those activities that yield subjective benefits. If the government subsidizes out of wedlock birth guess what will happen? And the nature of those households is poorer, less educated etc etc. You know the drill. Oh yeah, and black. The solution? Well if they are poor, give them money. If they are uneducated make believe that they are. Stir, mix, repeat. We are worse off then when I went to primary school in the 1950s. Think about that. We destroyed another generation of black men and women and have learned nothing. That my friends, is the very definition of genocide. About that stereo Abdul Alhazred Posts: 82768 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm Title: Yes, that one. Location: Chicago ### Re: The education rat race ed wrote: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:18 am Abdul and I went to "Special High Schools" whose admittance is by test. Today the majority (?) of students are Asian and white. DiBlasio came up with the idea of admitting the top x% of students in each district thus putting more black faces in the classrooms. This, naturally, would destroy those schools in the name of something that I really don't get. Since they are funded partially by the state, Albany has the final say and they said "no". Undeterred DiBlasio is going to eliminate special programs that catered to the gifted because noting raises blacks up like ignoring the "why" and destroying programs that benefit others. Point of information. I tried to get into Stuyvesant, but didn't make the cut. DeBlasio's program is de facto that wealthy politically connected minorities get in. These exist nowadays and never mind the intersectionality rhetoric. Ghetto types are in fact less likely to get in, though blacks will be more "represented". The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos. People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos. ed Posts: 38142 Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2004 11:52 pm Title: G_D ### Re: The education rat race Abdul Alhazred wrote: Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:39 pm Point of information. I tried to get into Stuyvesant, but didn't make the cut. <insert Doc X's patronizing, head patting emoji here> About that stereo Abdul Alhazred Posts: 82768 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm Title: Yes, that one. Location: Chicago ### Re: The education rat race The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos. People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos. Abdul Alhazred Posts: 82768 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm Title: Yes, that one. Location: Chicago ### Re: The education rat race My father's high school Alma Mater. In the 1930s Sicilians were among the ghetto types. The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos. People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos. Flacus Posts: 54 Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:19 pm ### Re: The education rat race Abdul Alhazred wrote: Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:12 am The best solution is leave NYC, even if it means walking away from a decent paying job. Because your children are more important. That city is doomed anyway. Get out quickly. what's going on with new york city? too much crime? Abdul Alhazred Posts: 82768 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm Title: Yes, that one. Location: Chicago ### Re: The education rat race Nope. This is not typical woowoo behavior at all. The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos. People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos. Witness Posts: 27699 Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:50 pm ### Re: The education rat race Something for Abdul: Negotiations to Resume as Chicago Schools Brace for Teachers Strike Negotiations are slated to resume Tuesday as Chicago schools brace for a potential teachers strike. Union leaders began bargaining sessions with the Chicago Board of Education last week in an effort to keep teachers from walking off their jobs. The bargaining sessions were halted over the weekend and Monday but were expected to continue Tuesday. The union is calling for more staffing and a cap in class sizes. "It's almost as if they're daring us to strike over these issues," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a press conference Friday. The union announced members voted to authorize a strike Thursday night, setting the stage for more than 25,000 teachers and staff to walk off the job in the nation's third-largest school district. "This is a clear message to the mayor and the Board of Education to address critical needs in our schools," Sharkey said in announcing the vote. Chicago Public Schools officials say their latest contract offer included a 16% raise, which would put the average teacher salary at nearly$100,000 within the next five years.
https://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-r ... 62231.html

Doctor X
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### Re: The education rat race

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Abdul Alhazred
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